This past month, Mike and I participated in one of the most powerful conferences we have ever experienced in Cartersville, Georgia, outside of Atlanta. It was sponsored by two regional leaders for our 50-state prayer network, Lynn Alderson of Georgia and Mark Hawkins of Alabama. Other speakers included Dutch Sheets, Will Ford, and Matt Lockett of Bound4Life.
Cartersville was selected as the location for this gathering because it is a well of revival. As we looked into the history of this city, we found three significant catalysts for moves of God tied to the region:
Sam Jones, the evangelist, lived and preached in the late 1880s until the turn of the century, and his ministry was easily as influential as Billy Graham's.
Lottie Moon, missionary to China, dedicated her life to world missions at the Baptist church in Cartersville. This one is personally significant to me because reading about her life and participating in the Lottie Moon missions offering as a child nudged me toward my own call to world missions.
The Moravians, who kept the torch of missions held high along with 24-hour prayer for over a hundred years, came to America to evangelize the Native Americans and had missions posts in the area.
Dutch Sheets preached on “The Synergy of the Ages,” and we felt the power of the Holy Spirit release the anointing from these past moves of God into this present era. Surely the Great Cloud of Witnesses must have included Sam Jones that night.
A significant session of this gathering was co-led by Matt Lockett and Will Ford. If you have ever seen pictures of young people with red tape over their mouths with the word “Life” on it, that is the movement birthed by Matt's ministry, Bound4Life. He and various ministry teams have been “laying siege” through prayer to the Supreme Court since around 2004, crying out for the ending of abortion. Will Ford co-authored History Makers with Dutch Sheets.
Will and Matt—good friends for ten years without knowing their common tie—shared the electric testimony of two families bound together by heritage.
Will’s gripping family history of how his fore-bearers were owned by a tyrannical slave owner who whipped them severely if they were found praying tugged at our hearts because, as Americans, we are still dealing with the remorse and aftermath from that dark piece of history.
It seems the slave owner was afraid that if the slaves prayed, God might hear and answer their prayers, so it was not allowed. Resourcefully, they found a covert way to pray by propping a large, black cast-iron cooking kettle on stones, lying flat on their bellies, and praying under the kettle which muffled the sound of their voices. They did not pray for their own freedom, as they did not have faith for that, but rather for the freedom of the children that would be born after them.
To tie together the streams of history, after his father’s death, Matt became driven to find out about his family line. The urge was so strong that it became a frustrating and depressing search as both he and his relatives were stuck at a certain point and could not seem to find out anything beyond a time when they lived in Kentucky.
Finally, through a remarkable set of circumstance, too long for me to unpack here, he found his family line went back to a plantation in LaGrange, Louisiana—the very same piece of geography where the prayers of Will Ford's ancestors had cried out for freedom under that big old black pot!
The good friends were astounded to find out not only that Matt's family had owned Will's family, but also that the synergy of the ages was about to be displayed for a healing of the land and hearts.
This all ended with them traveling back to that same plantation site to bring restoration and joy! Truly we serve a God who hears every prayer and never forgets!
Supernatural healing took place, and a chapter was written for the history books of the nation for a future generation to hear and rejoice over!
Of course, many tears were shed during this story, including mine! This should bring comfort to all of us that God is even now working to repair our families’ stories in a way beyond our human imagination!
Remember—synergy is about the creation of a whole that is far greater than the sum of all its individual parts. This is what our God does throughout history. He is writing powerful moments in each of our individual stories and in the stories of nations, but put together, they contain the force and momentum of His eternal kingdom! Let this comfort you and encourage you as He works on your behalf.